Kingsman: The Secret Service
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine
At first, when Kingsman moved from fall 2014 to winter 2015, I worried it was because there was something wrong with the film, as is usually the case for a date change. However, Matthew Vaughn’s first film since X-Men: First Class (only his 5th to date) is anything but a problem; it’s the solution for all the males who want something to watch this weekend other than 50 Shades of Grey. Vaughn (Kick Ass, Layer Cake) continues to adapt comic books in a way that most franchises won’t. Kingsman (which does have franchise notions) touches a lot of new ground in the spy genre, in many ways poking fun as much as it is reinventing. Firth (Bridget Jones, The Kings Speech), who has never done an action film, did most of his own stunts and has never been cooler.
Eggsy (Egerton) has nowhere to turn following shenanigans that landed him in prison. Desperately, he follows instructions from a medallion he was given as a child following the death of his father. The Kingsman are a secret group of spy agents, working behind the façade of a well manicured tailor storefront on Westminster in London. Senior agent Harry Hart (Firth) has chosen the ill-mannered Eggsy as his recruit; facing off against the other recruits, only one spot is available. Forced to display discipline, team work, mental and physical skills, Eggsy finds purpose in his life. On the other side of the world a rich and powerful mastermind named Valentine (Jackson) has devised a plan to heal earth’s declining situation by disposing of some of its people. The Kingsman are called into action to preserve our way of life.
Egerton in his first film to finds that combination of cool intelligence that other actors similar in age like Zac Efron can’t seem to grasp.
Vaughn and his scripts seem to understand how to make action adventure not only fun and entertaining, but impressive and unique. Most of the action sequences, while brutal, bloody and disgusting, go for laughs like a Tarantino film might. However, the posh and uptight demeanor of the Kingsman agents, never a wrinkle in their one of a kind suits, creates a wonderful irony to the mayhem they cause. While a few scenes border on stupidity, Vaughn never lets it get too far to belittle the motives or the substance of the characters.
The real star here is newcomer Taron Egerton, who is reminiscent of a young DiCaprio. He is charming and cocky at the same time. He plays Eggsy as an authentic downtrodden hero who grows into maturity, and the Kingsman definition of a gentlemen. He manages in his first film to find that combination of cool intelligence that other actors similar in age like Zac Efron can’t seem to grasp. The violence might be too strong for those shy of bloodshed, yet the stylistic way it’s presented, especially in a church scene you won’t soon forget, is so much in the way of comic book depiction that it’s not the blood you remember but the hilarity of it. However, this is a very adult comic book adaptation. It isn’t James Bond or Spy Kids, and it’s not for the whole family.
Edgy and surprising, writer/director Vaughn once again injects life into the conveyer belt comic book genre.